Saturday, November 10, 2007

Tumaini is the New Hogwarts

Mere days after arriving here at Tumaini, Emilee, Michael and myself have found ourselves thrust into (somewhat dubious) positions of 'authority' as 'leaders' of the Three Houses of Tumaini.

I don't know where Eunice, the manager, got the idea to split the children into 'Houses', and I'm pretty sure it wasn't from Harry Potter. At any rate, she thought it best to have three houses (rather than four)--one for each of us volunteers to manage.

The point behind splitting up into Houses is still a bit vague. As far as I can tell, it's only going to be officially relevant during certain competitive athletic events we're responsible for organizing. Still, for myself, I hope the House mentality takes deeper root in the every aspect of Tumaini life. I want different colored t-shirts (you know, like the scarves in Harry Potter), a good-natured (but seriously-taken), constant battle between Houses for no apparent reason, and mythical importance attached to the House namesakes.

I'm not sure why I want this (especially since I think nationalism, tribalism, and any other 'ism' that divides people arbitrarily are patently absurd). Perhaps it derives from childhood in Papua New Guinea, when our school would have sports days where we were divided into teams--Pirates, Vikings, and Lions--and I was a Viking. (We had red shirts).

Eunice, predictably, required that the House names be Biblical in some way. That ruined plans for "Cheetah/Lion/Leopard" and such cool totemic trios with obvious mascots. In the end, eschewing ideas like "House Mishpah" or "House Hezekiah" (because who knows when the home will admit a child named Hezekiah?), we settled on 3 of the great rivers mentioned, at least in passing, in the Bible: the Tigris, Euphrates, and Nile.

In a sophisticated process involving the numbers 1-3 and a pen, we divided all the children up into these three Houses, and each picked our river. Emilee went for the catty Tigris, Michael the erudite Euphrates, and for myself: the all-powerful, monstrous, hypnotic, Nile! I win, at least in length, I think.

But now, we have to figure out what exactly what any of this means, besides getting a million knocks on our door every day which betoken the sudden appearance of unhappy children wanting to know if they can be in their friend's House.


The Sumer Alvarez Foundation said...

Ha - this is awesome! The image of teams without a purpose...Perhaps "Which team can wash Jonathan's shoes the best?" Or "Which team can make the most chapati for your apartment to eat?" The possibilities are endless...

The Sumer Alvarez Foundation said...

That was Claire...